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Carol Anne Costa: Boston, Oklahoma City, & Remembering Baylee

Thursday, April 18, 2013

 

Her name was Baylee Almon. She would have turned 19 years old today. The last image we have of her is being lovingly and gently cradled in the arms of firefighter Chris Fields outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, 18 years ago. Her limp, lifeless, and bloody body was captured on film by Charles Porter, a young amateur photographer. That image is forever seared into my psyche, as that act of terrorism shook me to my 34 year old core. Baylee for me was every baby–innocent, and full of promise. And she was violently taken for no reason at all. At the time, I didn’t know how to process the image, and wondered if I ever would.

As the events in Boston unfold it leaves me again sickened, shaken, and indignant. It is 2am on Tuesday and I am wide eyed, restless, sad, and angry. I cannot stop the images racing through my head. The Boston Marathon bombing began an awful replay of the loop of images, feelings of fear, anger and resolve that reside in me when these things occur. But for reasons unknown even to me, I always come back to Baylee. She is for me the lasting reminder of lives unlived.

The Slaughter of the Innocents Continues

Today I met Martin William Richard, a smiling 8 year old from Dorchester, Mass., described by his headmaster as a bright, energetic young boy who had big dreams. His last act by most accounts was to enjoy Patriots Day with his family, eat ice cream and cheer the runners on at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street. My social media feeds published pictures of his happy face holding a sign he made writing, “No more hurting people, PEACE” in indelible marker. Now Martin has left an indelible mark on all of us, as he too becomes a life unlived.

The images of Baylee Almon, the Sandy Hook Elementary victims, Hadiya Pendleton, the Columbine kids, and now precious Martin Richard flash like a slideshow in my head. They become part of our individual and collective memories, and it is up to us not to forget them, as well as to work tirelessly against terrorism and violence.

Dealing with the Pain

As we process the attack on Boston it is raw, the reasons opaque, the investigation ongoing and the grief plentiful. We all will manage the flood of information and the realization of the danger and evil in our own ways. In an interview with Alex Wagner on MSNBC, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman explained the impact of the trauma and in part, reaction. “In addition to being an emotional trauma, it was a violation, a violation of the sanctity of the spirit of the day. It really penetrates to the core of people's sense of security.”

For me, I will hug the children in my life longer and harder, I will be vigilant, I will pray for Bostons’s dead, hurt and injured, I will work for peace, I will like so many Americans rise in the face of evil and today, I will remember Baylee.

Find Psychology Today's resource page for parents and children on dealing with tragedy here.

 

A public relations and community outreach specialist, Carol has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience, as she the public in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also had a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager for the Johnston Housing Authority. Her work has been published in several local outlets including: GOLOCALPROV, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.

 

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